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UK stats office reports error in public finances data

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LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s statistics agency said on Friday it found an error in public finances data which means the government’s budget deficit in the financial year to date is likely around £1 billion to £1.5 billion smaller than previously reported.

“We have identified an error in the measurement of local government social benefits in the current financial year-to-date (April to September 2019) and will be correcting this at the earliest opportunity,” the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the ONS reported the year-to-date budget deficit at £40.3 billion, excluding public-sector banks.

It also put the shortfall for September alone at £9.4 billion. In its statement on Friday, the ONS said it now expected this to be reduced in size by around £200 million to £250 million.

“We expect to publish a corrected bulletin and dataset early next week,” the ONS said, adding that the fixed data will feed into Britain’s sectoral and financial accounts for the release scheduled in December.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce)

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